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Ronald Basil Girdler

1925 - 2017


Helene Girdler

1927 - 2020

Louisa Annie (b1900)

My mother was born on 15th June 1900. She went to school at the local School Central School (High Road) , Board School, opposite Felixstowe Station. At the age of 14, she was looking after the child of a schoolmaster. Her first main job was at Sarson's Dairy in Hamilton Road, where she was employed as a cashier. During the First World War, she worked with her sister Kit in a munitions factory in Ipswich and they lodged with a Felixstowe family called Ball. My mother and her sister Kit were very close and they went everywhere together. For a short time after the War they worked as usherettes and programme sellers at the Spa Pavilion. They left Felixstowe around 1919 and went to London with their sister Tal. In London, they lived in lodgings in Kempsford Gardens, Earls Court, and worked in Frascati's Restaurant at Earls Court, where Mum was preparing the grills and salads. It was while they were working in London that they met my father, Arthur Girdler, and his brother, Basil. It was this meeting that led to the subsequent marriage of 2 sisters to 2 brothers. Before their marriages, Mum and Auntie Kit went to live at 489, Fulham Road, a large house right opposite the Chelsea Football Ground. This was the house of Dad's sister, Alice, and her husband, Christopher. Mum slept in one bed with my cousin Kath (Alice's daughter) and Auntie Kit slept in another bed, all in Kath's room.

Mum married Arthur William Girdler on 2nd August 1924 at St. James Church, Fulham, London S.W.6, They lived first of all at 489, Fulham Road, where they had a bed-sitting room in the front room of the basement, in what was later the living room, and where I was born on 31st October 1925. Later on, we moved to Radipole Road, Putney, and then in 1929-1930, to 22, Court Way, Colindale, London, N.W.9., where my sister Peggy was born on 7th March 1930.

Life in the 1930's was becoming increasingly difficult with the recession and mass unemployment. Mum had an operation for gallstones in 1932, and my sister and I stayed with our Auntie Alice and Uncle Christopher (known as Uncle Joe) at their house in Fulham Road until Mum had recovered from her operation and had been to a convalescent home in Swanley, Kent. There was no National Health Service in those days, and I remember my father meeting the Lady Almoner in the Hospital to discuss how much he could afford to pay towards the cost of the operation. My father ran an antique shop in St. John's Wood, London, at the time and later on the business became nearly bankrupt, causing him to pool all his resources to try and save it, unhappily without success. He was then unemployed for about 2 years, during which time he had to delay payments on his mortgage and we had to economise in everything - a difficult period. In order to make things easier, Mum took in lodgers. Eventually, Dad got a job as an accountant with a firm called Guymers dealing with cattle and other animal feedstuffs.

During the war, when we were still living in Colindale, many high explosive bombs, incendiaries, flying bombs and mines were dropped in the area during the German air raids. We often had to take shelter at these times in the Anderson shelter which had been built in the garden. Dad and I were on a rota of fire-watchers for the road in order to bring rapid assistance in the event of any fires started by incendiaries, but luckily there were no bombs dropped in our road during the war (but many very near!). Mum worked at Everett Edgecombes factory in Colindale at this time making various products for the war effort.

Mum did not have the best of health in middle age but never once complained about anything. She was rather overweight and had bad knees, making it painful to walk great distances, and it was only after she died from a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 68 that we learned that she had extremely high blood pressure, for which she had never been treated.